Parliamentary elections in Scotland

Parliamentary elections in Scotland : a view from Brittany.

de Yes Breizh
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Parliamentary elections in Scotland.

Scotland will be holding parliamentary elections on 6th May 2021.
Following our article on these same elections in Wales, let’s take a look at the elections to Scotland’s parliament on 6th May.
The Scottish Parliament (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, in Gaelic) is made up of 129 MSPs who are elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term.

Scotland uses a mixed voting system. First of all, 73 MSPs are elected on a single-round, first past the post system for constituencies. Then 56 MSPs are elected on a proportional basis in the country’s eight electroal regions, with seven MSPs per region.

A little bit of history about the Scottish Parliament

This Pàrlamaid na h-Alba was created in the XIIIth century. It disappeared during the union between Scotland and England in 1707. It was re-established in 1998 by the Scotland Act 1998 following the previous year’s referendum on the devolution of certain powers by the central British government. In 2012, the Scotland Act 2012 authorised Scotland to raise certain taxes. The magnificent Pàrlamaid na h-Alba building was inaugurated in 2004, in the presence of Queen Elisabeth.

élections législatives en Écosse

Map of the Parliamentary elections in Scotland 2016 – Source : Wikipedia

The political forces present.

Political life in Scotland is strongly dominated by the SNP Scottish National Party / Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba. Its leader is Nicola Sturgeon.
In opposition are three branches of British unionist parties and two Scottish parties.

Douglas Ross’s Conservatives.

The Scottish Conservative Party / Pàrtaidh Tòraidheachd na h-Alba. This is just a branch of the British Conservative and Unionist Party.

Anas Sarwar’s Labour Party.

Scottish Labour / Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba is also just a Scottish branch office of the British socialist Labour party. It is a member of the PES Party of European Socialists, like the French Parti Socialiste.

Willie Rennie’s Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats / Deamocratach na h-Alba are remote controlled from London by their « parent company ». Independently of this Scottish branch, there is a branch in Wales. They operate on the same principle as French political parties who remote control lists in Brittany from Paris.

The Scottish Greens of Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie.

The Scottish Green Party / Pàrtaidh Uaine na h-Alba is an independent Scottish party.
It is a member of the European Green Party, like France’s EELV. The Scottish Greens officially support Scottish independence. Scottish Green seats are important to the SNP, which does not hold an overall majority.

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

The most recent newcomer to the Scottish political landscape is The Alba Party, which was created a few weeks ago. Its leader is Alex Salmond, the former Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP, who has fallen out with Nicola Sturgeon following accusations of sexual assault, on which he was found not guilty by the Scottish courts. The Alba Party is only standing on the regional lists. According to the latest opinion polls, it is running at 4% of the votes.

élections législatives en Écosse

Parliamentary elections in Scotland

The SNP Scottish National Party has been in power for fourteen years.

Following the last elections in 2016, the seats were divided as follows.
First of all, the SNP Scottish National Party with 63 MSPs. 65 seats are needed for an overall majority.
Next come the Conservatives with 31 and Labour with 24. Finally, the Scottish Greens are represented in the Pàrlamaid na h-Alba by 6 MSPs and the Liberal Democrats by 5.

Turnout was 55.6%.
Scotland was a Labour stronghold from 1964 to 2010. Since devolution, the first three First Ministers were Labour MSPs. In 2007, with Alex Salmond, the Nationalists moved ahead of Labour. Then in 2011, the SNP Scottish National Party won an overall majority. The failure of the Yes campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum led Alex Salmond to resign and Nicola Sturgeon became the country’s First Minister.

The stakes involved in these Scottish parliament elections.

So, the country’s independence is at stake. The SNP Scottish National Party and its leader Nicola Sturgeon hope to win an overall majority on their own, but the latest opinion polls show that they would need Green MSPs to obtain a comfortable pro-independence majority. The Scottish people would then be able to demand the organisation of a new referendum on self-determination from the central government in London. After three hundred years of control by England, the opinion polls are showing a slight majority of Scots in favour of independence.

The SNP’s leaders see this as a solid base to win victory during the future referendum.

In any case, the battle is going to be a harsh one between independence supporters and the unionists, backed by London’s entire political and economic machine. Nicola Sturgeon knows this full well and will only organise the referendum if there is a clear hope of winning it. The example of Quebec with its repeated lost referenda has been studied by the SNP’s strategists and they will do everything they can to avoid another failure which would bury any hope of achieving independence soon.

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